'McHale's' star got start as a magician

Actor and magician Carl Ballantine died Nov. 3 in Hollywood of natural causes Nov. 3. He was 92.

Born Meyer Kessler in Chicago, he started performing magic tricks as a teenager. He added comedy to the routine, and the Amazing Ballantine was born.

Ballantine’s act was seen in the later days of vaudeville in New York and Baltimore. On TV, his comedy magic act was booked on shows from Gary Moore, Steve Allen, Milton Berle, Dinah Shore, Andy Williams, Dean Martin and Ed Sullivan.

He was the first magician to play Las Vegas on a bill with Harry James, Betty Grable and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Moving into television, he played Lester Gruber on “McHale’s Navy” and appeared in films including “The Shakiest Gun in the West,” “The World’s Greatest Lover,” “Mr. Saturday Night” and “Speedway” with Elvis Presley.

He also appeared on Broadway in the 1971 revival of “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” with Phil Silvers.

He is survived by a sister, daughter Saratoga, an actress, and daughter.

Donations may be made to Used Pets, 517 W. Buckthorn, Inglewood, CA 90301.

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